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Polis: Fight for the Hegemony» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Serious? Lee Snappy Ruminations on Polis rss

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Serious? Lee
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Polis presents a highly replayable, unique and outstanding economic war game experience.
This asymmetrical two-player competition for resources, territory, population and ultimately prestige marries a beautifully illustrated ancient Greek theme with tension-filled, decision making opportunities every turn to produce a very satisfying finish, win or lose.

SYNOPSIS
Polis combines a light war game with a tight economic struggle. Sparta and Athens take turns building rival civilizations by expanding their reach and influence among ancient Greek city-states. Territorial expansion through warfare or diplomatic skill is balanced against the need to sustain a growing populace through efficient resource collection and trade. Prestige accumulated throughout the game is particularly precious as it must be spent enforcing military actions while also counting in combination with final population totals towards determining victory.

COMMENTS
This game demands well thought out strategic planning but also rewards midgame tactical play, taking advantage of the few random elements which can prove disruptive at times. Games typically last 2-3+ hours but are so highly engaging I hardly notice how long it takes to finish play. Every game leaves me thinking about my experience the following day; considering my moves and mistakes, imagining all the 'what if' scenarios that could have gone a different way and planning on ways to improve the next time. This game fills me with the excitement I felt when playing Puerto Rico for the first time and discovering the world of German-style board games which is high praise indeed.

Polis is infused throughout with historical references to support its theme. Much like Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan, Polis references its inspirations by basing each side's strengths and weaknesses broadly to their namesakes and by designing elements of game play which suggest certain strategies aligned to historical precedents. It's not immersive per se but rather reflective of the struggle between those two great neighboring civilizations.

PROS+, CONS- & NOTES*
+ Depth of open decision space allows for varied direct and/or indirect conflict.
+ Limitation of turn sequences inspires chess-like puzzle solving strategies to accomplish tasks.
+ Subtle advantages represent the theme well.
+ Historical event cards add thematic action to game play.
+ Included alternate scenarios allow for quicker play.
- Management of scarce resources can be unforgiving.
- Battles determined by card game and sieges by four-sided die rolls considered too random/luck-filled for some.
- Some aspects of game seem unintuitive, especially compared to other war games, e.g. moving and fighting forces.
- Hard for beginners to understand what to do initially and how to play effectively until more familiar and experienced with the game.
* Rule book includes many good illustrative examples of rules and play, but earlier version was poorly translated.
* Simple abstraction of population and combat units uses same cubes to represent both.
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Mike Walker
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Simply the best game I've ever played.
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Michel Ouimet
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True, Polis and Sekigahara are masterpieces in their respective genre. :-)
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Jeff K
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leemc13 wrote:

PROS+, CONS- & NOTES*
- Management of scarce resources can be unforgiving.


Wait, that's a CON? laugh

Just kidding, agree with most of what you wrote. Fantastic game, and I would not want it to be any less brutal!
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Serious? Lee
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Xookliba wrote:
leemc13 wrote:

PROS+, CONS- & NOTES*
- Management of scarce resources can be unforgiving.


Wait, that's a CON? laugh

Just kidding, agree with most of what you wrote. Fantastic game, and I would not want it to be any less brutal!

Perhaps not a CON really, but until you manage to do it well it can really be brutal. And you're right - I wouldn't want it any less brutal because that's a key part of game.

Most of those items I listed as CONs apply to new players who may find aspects of the game hard to grok until they are more experienced with the game play. Then they turn into challenges to play the game well and effectively.
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Mick Mickelsen
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I also think this is a masterpiece of design and I also would put it in the same category as Sekigahara as one of the best two player non-traditional wargames.

I also have to agree the game can be brutal for newbies. Until both players get a handle on how the game plays one or both sides may rapidly run out of prestige, become paralyzed, and collapse. I've introduced this game to a couple of people who found this to be extremely frustrating.
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J.C.
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mikedub99 wrote:
Simply the best game I've ever played.


Yep. And it's not particularly close for me. I wish I could rate in an 11.
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jonathan schleyer
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What about the possibilities for solo play playing both sides? I'd be curious about those especially with the use of cards for battles.
 
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Mick Mickelsen
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I think I would only play it solo to learn the rules and wrap my mind around the strategies. I would compare it to Twilight Struggle in terms of playing it as a solo game. Not very good.
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Mike Walker
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b a n j o wrote:
mikedub99 wrote:
Simply the best game I've ever played.


Yep. And it's not particularly close for me. I wish I could rate in an 11.


it's Polis and everything else. so, so true!
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Mike Walker
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b a n j o wrote:
mikedub99 wrote:
Simply the best game I've ever played.


Yep. And it's not particularly close for me. I wish I could rate in an 11.


side note: what if the geed allowed each user to grade one and only one game an 11?? you could change your choice if you'd like, but you could never have more than one 11 at a time per geek.
could be an interesting list, imo!
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Jeff K
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Tony T
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provence wrote:
What about the possibilities for solo play playing both sides? I'd be curious about those especially with the use of cards for battles.

I did that for my first play-through.

You know what strategy each side is playing, so on each turn you can work towards countering the opponent's strategy, but that creates an additional challenge of having to re-evaluate your strategy on each turn and make best use of the strengths and advantages of each side.

It was actually fun though two players of course is much more fun.
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